Young people’s drug and alcohol use
Our recent survey of 2,500 secondary schoolchildren in England found:
- The pressures of social media are driving some girls to take drugs to stay thin and some boys to take substances to build muscle.
- Stress, anxiety and low mood are common among young people – some are taking cannabis, alcohol and benzodiazepines such as Xanax to try to cope.
- Party drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine are seen as safe by many schoolchildren.
- Many teenagers are regularly binge drinking alcohol.
We can offer informative sessions to help teachers and practitioners better identify pupils who may be living with parents, carers or siblings that are misusing substances.
What can parents do?
Parents can play a crucial role by helping to put in place protective factors that help build a young person’s resilience. These include:
- Building positive, open communication
- Ensuring the child feels respected and cared for
- Having positive experiences and achievements
- Encouraging positive relationships with friends/peers
From both the parents’ and the young person’s point of view, it can feel daunting to broach the topic of drugs and alcohol.
We asked young people why they might avoid a conversation with their parents about drugs and alcohol. The reasons included:
- Parents might react negatively or angrily
- Parents might think less of them
- They would get into trouble
- Parents might end up overreacting
- The experience would be awkward and uncomfortable
As a parent, it’s important that you take these fears into consideration when planning your conversation.
Encourage an honest and open dialogue with your child
- Stay calm
- Avoid scare tactics or being overly confrontational
- Be non-judgmental about their thoughts/choices
- Show empathy/understanding